Grey Cardigan

Why Lord Dacre doesn’t – and shouldn’t – give a toss about Twitter

IN THE drawing room of his Scottish mansion, Lord Dacre gazed out of the full-length windows as the estate workers trooped wearily home from that afternoon’s badger hunt. A nervous servant knocked on the door and then entered the room, bearing a telephone on a silver tray.

Excuse me, My Lord, but there is a man from London who says he needs to speak to you urgently.”

Dacre put down his cup of cocoa, sighed, took the receiver and dismissed the minion with a waft of his tartan midge-swat.

Yes?” he barked.

In the hallowed halls of Derry Street, the unfortunate newsroom executive who had drawn the short straw took a deep breath, thought of his loving wife and children at home in their six-bed detached with electric gates in Surbiton, and began the last conversation he might ever have as a national newspaper journalist.

Sorry to disturb you on holiday, Sir, but things are getting a little hairy down here and we thought you ought to know. It seems that our entirely justified and factually accurate denunciation of the arch-Communist Ralph Miliband as an enemy of Britain hasn’t gone down too well with certain sectors of society. In fact, some people are very, very cross indeed.

Alastair Campbell – remember, the chap who asked us for favours many, many times when it came to our coverage of Tony Blair – is causing an awful lot of fuss. There’s talk of an advertising boycott and a protest march. And it doesn’t help that that little shit Greig on the Sunday has gone and dropped an almighty bollock and Jonathan is having to pick up the pieces. Lady R is furious.

And Twitter, oh Twitter. Every unfunny left-wing comedian, media commentator, political luvvie or two-bit hack is steaming into us. It’s a tidal wave of abuse. They’ve dug out all those old 1930s cuttings and there are pictures of Hitler and everything. It’s a national movement. What on earth shall we do?”

Lord Dacre leaned back in his Chippendale chair, glanced across to the meerkat-skinned blotter on his desk where his new, 12-month, million-pound contract lay, freshly-signed.

Tell me,” he said to the quaking messenger. “What the fuck is Twitter? And why should I fucking care about it?”

And that, my friends, is the nub of the situation. The Daily Mail is one of the most successful newspapers in the world. In terms of identifying its potential market, and then ruthlessly pursuing that market, it has no peers. Its ginger-headed bastard step-brother, Mail Online, is raking in millions of pounds – or more probably dollars – with its daily diet of hypocritical smut. (Is it really true that some celebrities actually pay to appear in that Sidebar of Shame?)

A publishing juggernaut of this magnitude will not – and should not – be deflected by a few literate, media-savvy, self-righteous tossers. It is what it is. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it – millions of ordinary people still will. And don’t link to its website when you’re whining about the latest so-called outrage. Remember that the freedom of the press doesn’t just apply to those newspapers of which you approve.

(Incidentally, Mirror editor Lloyd Embley seemed very pleased with his pastiche spread mocking the Mail. Perhaps he ought to read up on the history of his own newspaper and its similarly unseemly dalliance with the Blackshirts.)

And as for those journalists who have happily been emailing Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and M&S asking them to boycott the Mail group in a move that could cost innocent colleagues their jobs further down the line? Your names have been taken, you treacherous bastards.

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Grey Cardigan

Written by Grey Cardigan

The Grey Cardigan has been in newspapers since the days of hot metal and expense accounts. After a lengthy career as chief sub on several regional newspapers, plus a multitude of shifts on the nationals, he was appointed editor of the Evening Beast in 2009 before being ignominiously 'rationalised' last year. He is currently collecting gas in jam jars in case the Russians cut us off. @thegreycardigan

  • Unglamorous Hack

    You really do continue to be the most sanctimonious arse writing about journalism in the land… even beating off stiff competition from Fleet Street ‘Fox’.

    “Treacherous bastards”? The pond-dwellers on the Mail and the Sun are the reason why those of us toiling on less glamorous, but more responsible, publications still have to explain what we do apologetically. Yes, I’m a journalist. Yes, I know. Yes, I do wish I had a reputable profession like Nick over there. Yes, Nick the estate agent. Sorry.

    The oft-quoted “decent hacks” on the Mail have had years to get the hell away and work for someone less odious. It’s not like the Mail has been a voice of kindness and consideration for 20 years and has only now transmogrified into a bullying monster.

    Maybe, Grey Cardigan, people like you serving out their retirement on the tattered remnants of the local press still cling to some deluded 50s idea that the Mail is the home of truth-seeking journalism. That’s lovely for you. The rest of us still have a good few years before claiming our pension. We would quite like British journalism to still be standing, and respected, after the Mail group has entered its death spiral. Think of that before you start accusing others of being “treacherous bastards”, won’t you?

  • Grey

    So you think it’s OK for non-Mail journalists to advocate an advertising boycott that could cause Mail journalist to lose their jobs? Who are they to try to censor the press through financial blackmail?

    And thanks for the ‘sanctimonious arse’ comparison, She’ll be delighted!

  • Unglamorous Hack

    It’s not remotely “censoring the press”. When I shop at the Co-op, I don’t want my money to go to causes I disapprove of. One of those causes is the Daily Mail.

    I would therefore be delighted if the Co-op stopped advertising with the Mail, and have told them so. They’re at liberty to ignore my criticism; it’s a commercial decision for them, and an ethical decision for me as to whether to continue shopping there.

    Every single editor has to balance this up at some point, even those of us toiling on publications with five- rather than seven-figure circulations. Can I produce a magazine that pisses off advertisers yet delights readers, such that the circulation rise makes up for the reduced ad revenue? Do I soft-soap the readers and play to the advertisers? Or, more likely, how do I steer a course between the two? Come on, this is Editing 101, and Dacre has – much though I don’t like to admit it – been better at it than most of us.

  • Grey

    I think you’ve actually agreed with me there.

  • Paul

    Spot on, Grey.
    Another facet to this is how incestuous the media have become and how they think their little internecine political spats count as major news today.
    Surely to God there are more important stories for the Mail’s critics to cover than what’s in another newspaper?
    As it happens, I’m not sure the public are too bothered about our profession/trade as some might think.
    If the nation’s journalists failed to turn up to work tomorrow then would the country come to a standstill? Would it have the same effect as nurses, doctors, bus drivers and supermarket delivery drivers failing to show? Over the short-term, no.
    Perhaps the Mail’s critics should focus on news-gathering and getting stories that matter to their readers, huh?

  • Ronshirt

    About time someone put this in perspective. It’s the Mail for fuck’s sake, not the Watchtower. As someone much cleverer than me (not hard) once said: ‘National papers reflect the prejudices of their readers.’ I find some of the sanctimonious shite in the Guardian much harder to bear, and I’m probably a socialist.

  • Mick

    It was a targeted attack on Miliband for his support of the pizza deal. Can’t fault the idea of an attack. The pizza deal with a bunch of celebrity ‘victims’ and was thoroughly obnoxious and Miliband was a twat for going anywhere near it yet alone supporting it. But the simple truth is that it wasn’t accurate. They were looking for a way of attacking Miliband and that nonsense was the best they could come up with! Ralph Miliband didn’t hate Britain. A schoolboy in the 1940s/50s who thought the British class system and the way places at good schools and Oxbridge were stitched up among a certain class of people was simply astute, and voicing the sort of concerns the Mail rightly espouses, while the claim he was a Soviet dupe who hated The Times was idiotic nonsense. He wrote to The Times to lambast the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. A dead man was attacked to get at his son. If you think it is only a few newspapers who were angry over it you’re living in the land of the blind. Just look at the poll in yesterday’s Sunday Times. It not only spectacularly failed to hit the target, it has given Miliband and the obnoxious prats at Hacked Off even more ammunition in their attempts to make rules that would restrict perfectly proper journalism and the public’s right to know.

  • Demon barber

    Jeez. Who shops at the Co-op?
    Frigging communists, that’s who.

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